Free societies have an urgent and abiding requirement for truth. They cannot survive without it. Indeed, the final determination of a legal proceeding is called the verdict, a contraction of two Latin words, Dictum and Veritas – To Speak The Truth.
In every investigation in our legal system people are sworn to tell the truth. The consequences of lying are serious.
Kevin Trudeau has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for misleading the public about a weight loss book he sold on infomercials. He was charged with deceiving about a million people in a $37 million fraud.
Martha Stewart spent time in jail. She was accused of using inside information to make money on a stock trade. She was convicted for lying under oath in the investigation.
One of Hollywood's most celebrated filmmakers, John McTiernan, is in jail in South Dakota for lying in an investigation about wiretapping in a dispute over the remake of the movie, "Rollerball."
The consequences of misleading others in private arrangements can be serious.
Likewise, we cannot long maintain a vibrant and free public square if we cannot trust the veracity of the participants in that square.
When you vote you depend on what you have learned from the candidates and about the candidates to inform your decision. If you cannot count on campaigns being honest you look to honest reporting by a free press. When we cannot trust the candidate or the press we have tyranny.
We have seen instances where political candidates run for office on the strength of their battlefield experience only to learn from good reporting that the man never even wore a uniform. That candidate is toast.
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing oversight hearing on the Justice Department. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
When a senator or president stands before the world and commits to a position on an issue, we trust that he or she will carry out that commitment in office.
Freedom falters when a person in a responsible position tells a blatant lie under oath in front of an investigating committee of Congress or a president misleads or lies in order to pursue a public course of action. Freedom fails completely if the press chooses to ignore the affront to a free people.
Attorney General Eric Holder was subpoenaed for records on the gun running program, Fast and Furious. When he ignored the subpoena the Congress voted to hold him in contempt. The enforcement of a congressional contempt proceeding falls to the department Holder leads. He gave himself a pass.
Director of National Intelligence, Jim Clapper, was called to testify before the Senate regarding National Security Agency wiretaps. Prior to the hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent him a copy of the question he would ask. Wyden wanted there to be no misunderstanding about information he was seeking. When the question was asked, Clapper lied.
In order to show sincerity on the immigration issue, the White House brags that this president has deported a record number of people. We now learn that they have changed the definition of deportation creating a bogus number that is a lie. Fully 98 percent of individuals included in the number of deported in 2013 were either criminals apprehended while illegally crossing the border or had been previously deported.
James Clapper (Photo: AP)
When four Americans were killed in a terrorist attack on a United States facility in Benghazi in 2012, the facts of the assault were known immediately. The president lied for weeks about what was an act of war. The press dismissed it as a Republican problem and the president was re-elected.
We know that the president lied about keeping your insurance or keeping your doctor under his plan to totally restructure our health care delivery system. In fact, destroying the individual insurance market was the centerpiece of the plan. If those lies had been told in an infomercial on television over the sale of a book he could be sent to jail. If they had been covered in the press Obamacare would have failed and so would have Obama’s last campaign.
If the press had paid as much attention to the lies of public officials as they did to Kevin Trudeau, Martha Stewart and John McTiernan, the destruction of the world’s best health care system would have failed. The attorney general and DNI would have resigned and Immigration reform would be dead.
In a March 12 congressional hearing, Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) asked Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; “Are you going to delay the open enrollment beyond March 31?”
“No sir.” was her reply.
March 26, Washington Post: “The Obama administration has decided to give extra time to Americans who say that they are unable to enroll in health plans through the federal insurance marketplace by the March 31 deadline.”
It is difficult to know which is more damaging to freedom – a lying politician or a slavish press.
John Linder served in Congress for 18 years from Georgia. He and his wife, Lynne, have retired to a farm in Northeast Mississippi. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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